We’re thrilled to report that, for the second time in three years, a FIRE short film has won a prize at FreedomFest’s Anthem Film Festival. FIRE’s film “Don’t Cage My Speech! A Student Schools His College” played to audiences at FreedomFest last week, and Ted Balaker, the film’s director, won the award for Excellence in Filmmaking, Short Documentary on Saturday night. The film’s articulation of the legal challenge—and defeat—of the University of Cincinnati’s unconstitutional “free speech zone” and of free speech’s importance in higher education in eight short minutes is a testament to Ted’s [...] » Read More
FIRE’s new Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project has received a lot of attention since it was launched on July 1—much of it from free speech advocates who recognize the need for court cases aimed at striking down campus speech codes. Today, Bloomberg View columnist and FIRE Board of Directors member Virginia Postrel writes to address remarks from some skeptics of the project, including those who advocate for free speech zones.
Mark G. Yudof, the former president of the University of California (UC) system, recently weighed in on the state of free speech on the American college campus today. Pointing to this year’s “disinvitation season,” Yudof rightly lamented the tendency of too many students to advocate for or condone the suppression of ideas that they consider offensive or abhorrent. This message is especially welcome coming from the former head of an enormous public university system and a former constitutional law professor.
Writing for The Jewish Daily Forward, Yudof recounted instances in which he had himself responded to speech [...] » Read More
Category: The Torch
Schools: University of California
Cases: Nationwide: Colleges Across the Country Disinvite Commencement Speakers
Last week, the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight’s Majority Staﬀ released a report (PDF) examining college and university responses to allegations of sexual assault on campus. Commissioned by Senator Claire McCaskill, the report bases its analysis on a survey of 440 institutions conducted earlier this year, also commissioned by Senator McCaskill.
The report provides further evidence of the readily apparent inability of colleges and universities to fairly and effectively adjudicate criminal misconduct, but disappointingly fails to acknowledge the serious due process concerns presented by recent mandates imposed by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights [...] » Read More
In September 2011, when Beth Baumann of Northern Arizona University (NAU) made plans to commemorate the 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, she never expected to be shut down by her school. After all, who would stop students from handing out miniature American flags, pins, and bumper stickers? But when inclement weather forced her and two compatriots to move their commemoration from the courtyard outside of the student union into the building itself, they unknowingly exited the school’s free speech zone.
Unwilling to tolerate this exercise of free speech and assembly, several NAU administrators attempted [...] » Read More
In October 2013, the University of Michigan (UM) student government denied the university’s chapter of Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) funding for a speech by Jennifer Gratz, the winning plaintiff in a 2003 lawsuit against the university for its weighing of applicants’ race in admissions. In December, YAL filed suit against UM with the help of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). Last month, UM entered into a settlement agreement with YAL, agreeing to pay $5,000 to YAL as well as $9,000 in legal fees.
Konrad Thallner is a FIRE summer intern.
Since learning of my internship at FIRE, many of my friends and peers at private colleges and universities across the country have expressed an unfortunate degree of confusion, misunderstanding, and pessimism regarding the options at their disposal when they encounter an oppressive speech code. These students have expressed feelings of helplessness after making the decision of where to attend college based on promises of a “liberal education” or “viewpoint diversity,” only to be surprised with the lack of dedication to such principles once they get to campus.
Most students’ hesitation to fight speech codes seems to [...] » Read More
Category: The Torch
FIRE Litigation Coordinator Catherine Sevcenko takes to The Huffington Post today to explain why Iowa State University students Paul Gerlich and Erin Furleigh are standing up for speech at their institution by filing a First Amendment lawsuit.
As Torch readers will remember from this month’s press conference launching our Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project, Paul and Erin are the leaders of Iowa State’s chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). They came to FIRE for help after the university first revoked approval for the group’s T-shirt, then [...] » Read More
Boston’s WGBH News has just announced the “winners” of its 2014 Muzzle Awards, given to those who have particularly impeded freedom of speech over the past year. Formerly published in the Boston Phoenix, WGBH has adopted the awards and is continuing the tradition of “singl[ing] out the dramatic and the petty, the epic and the absurd.”
FIRE co-founder Harvey Silverglate and research assistants Daniel Schneider and Samantha Miller selected the recipients of the Campus Muzzle Awards. Introducing the winners, Harvey warns readers of the dangerous trend of censorship on America’s college and university campuses:
Campus censorship is particularly dangerous since [...] » Read More
Category: The Torch
Schools: Asnuntuck Community College
Cases: Nationwide: Colleges Across the Country Disinvite Commencement Speakers Asnuntuck Community College: Student Recording Conversation with Governor Suspended, Deprived of Fair Hearing
Last week, FIRE announced the launch of our new Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project at a press conference where we revealed four federal lawsuits targeting campus speech codes. Through this new project, FIRE will continue to coordinate similar lawsuits until speech codes are eliminated from public college campuses.
FIRE is pleased that so many media outlets have covered the project’s launch. But in addition to the news coverage reporting on the project, I am thrilled that the editorial board of the Las Vegas Review-Journal recently ran an editorial urging my [...] » Read More